Men­tal health pa­tients travel up to 200 miles to get treat­ment

Rochdale Observer - - FRONT PAGE - Beth.abbit@men-news.co.uk @BethAb­bitMEN

VUL­NER­A­BLE men­tal health pa­tients are be­ing forced to travel hun­dreds of miles from home for treat­ment at a £9m cost to the re­gion’s tax­pay­ers.

A lack of hospi­tal beds means NHS bosses are hav­ing to pay for in-pa­tients from Greater Manch­ester to be treated across the coun­try.

Our sis­ter pa­per the M.E.N. has learnt there were nearly 700 cases where pa­tients with ‘acute’ needs were sent up to 200 miles away for treat­ment – at a cost of around £555 a day per per­son.

In a 12-month pe­riod, Greater Manch­ester Men­tal Health NHS Trust spent more than £8.6m on such place­ments – which ex­perts warn can be detri­men­tal to vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple.

Health chiefs try­ing to tackle the prob­lem have bid for cash to cre­ate sup­ported ac­com­mo­da­tion and plan to in­tro­duce ‘en­hanced com­mu­nity men­tal health teams’ and home-based treat­ment.

Plans are also afoot to work with hous­ing providers to cre­ate more sup­ported ac­com­mo­da­tion for pa­tients af­ter they leave hospi­tal.

De­spite all this, Alan Hart­man, of Manch­ester Users Network, which sup­ports pa­tients, says the sit­u­a­tion is not im­prov­ing.

“Pa­tients can be treated away from home for days at a time, with fam­ily and friends un­able to visit be­cause of the dis­tance.

“They’ve got no beds so you have to go miles away. It’s a real worry,” Mr Hart­man said. “Pa­tients can be very, very lonely when they’re miles away from home – and the im­pact is it takes them longer to get better.

“When you’re moved about you get dif­fer­ent psy­chi­a­trists, dif­fer­ent opin­ions and dif­fer­ent med­i­ca­tions.

“I think peo­ple end up stay­ing in hospi­tal longer, which is also wast­ing money. Peo­ple are get­ting ill be­cause they are be­ing wrongly dis­charged. It be­comes a re­volv­ing door, pa­tients are in and out.”

Ear­lier this year, the M.E.N. re­vealed 425 of Greater Manch­ester’s men­tal health pa­tients with acute needs were sub­ject to ‘out-of-area’ place­ments at a cost of £5.9m, be­tween Oc­to­ber 2016 and June this year. In July, there were 33 out-of-area place­ments.

And be­tween Au­gust and Oc­to­ber 2017 there were another 225 peo­ple sub­ject to out-of-area place­ments at a fur­ther cost of £2.7m.

Of those, 10 were more than 300 kilo­me­tres away from their lo­cal men­tal health ser­vice – fur­ther than the dis­tance be­tween Manch­ester and Lon­don.

A fur­ther 25 place­ments were be­tween 200 and 299 kilo­me­tres away, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from NHS Dig­i­tal.

Deb­o­rah Part­ing­ton, di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions for GMMH NHS Foun­da­tion Trust, said tack­ling out-ofarea place­ments has been a ma­jor pri­or­ity since it took over men­tal health ser­vices in Jan­uary.

“In the New Year we will in­tro­duce al­ter­na­tive op­tions for hospi­tal ad­mis­sion,” she said.

“These will in­clude en­hanced com­mu­nity men­tal health teams and home-based treat­ment.

“Re­search shows that ser­vice users re­spond better to care at home rather than hav­ing to spend time in hospi­tal and the model we will im­ple­ment has proven very suc­cess­ful in Bolton, Sal­ford and Traf­ford. 24/7 in­ten­sive, spe­cial­ist care will be made avail­able to ser­vice users in their own home, with only very se­ri­ously ill peo­ple need­ing a hospi­tal stay.

“We are work­ing with third-sec­tor providers and hous­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions to put for­mal agree­ments in place to of­fer care for peo­ple once they leave hospi­tal, in a sup­port­ive way.

“This will cre­ate ca­pac­ity in the sys­tem and make beds avail­able for those who need them.”

The trust has also bid for NHS Eng­land for Win­ter Pres­sures money which would al­low it to work with a third-sec­tor provider in the city to cre­ate ‘ded­i­cated sup­ported ac­com­mo­da­tion.’

●●Alan Hart­man, of Manch­ester Users Network, says the sit­u­a­tion is not im­prov­ing

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